Human nature alone
will not produce organized trading activity on the large scale. Human
nature alone will not cause humankind to be completely immobile -
tied to the same general location in a settlement generation after
generation. The circumstances of North America some centuries ago,
before colonization from Europe, were essentially what happens when
there is not large scale trading activity. Without peoples accustomed
to boat use, tribes will only interract with immediate neighbouring
peoples. Interractions with distant tribes do not happen, and awareness
of what exists further away is vague.
This is how it was in Europe before the development
of large trade systems. The Europe seen by the Romans was much like
that original North America - tribes were not aware of what was further
away, there were hundreds of languages and dialects and cultures.
Anthropologists a century ago know the nature of natural human
organization. National Geographic magazine was filled with strange
tribes in remote jungles in strange places. In North America around the
17th century, French explorers describe great variation from tribe to
tribe. For example, one tribe might have no restrictions on
complete nakedness, with the next was very strict. South American
jungles still had peculiar customs by the 19th century. Peoples who
stretched their lips and inserted discs of wood. There was body
tatooing, peculiar puberty rituals. Aztecs sacrificed maidens at the
top of pyramids. All this variety and peculiarity arises naturally from
lack of large scale organization. Today our entire humankind is united
by world-wide mass media. The whole world has the same large scale
cultural behaviour. Perhaps in a century from now we will look back and
think of some of what we consider normal today to be bizarre.
BEFORE TRADE SYSTEMS AND BEFORE POLITICAL ORGANIZATION HUMAN SOCIETIES WERE NATURALLY LOCAL
Pseudo-scholars today, who promote the idea that
there existed large scale nations existed in Europe before the Roman
Empire. The Roman Empire appears to have been the first truly large
scale organization of a large empire. You may say, what about ancient
Greece? If you read literature from ancient Greek, you discover that
there was no large scale government, and that Greek was a trade
language that also developed into a common language for other purposes
like culture. (Think of English today). There were city states who were
essentially tribes living in organized settlements. The ancient
historian Herodotus described all the tribes who came together to wage
war with the Persians in the 5th century BC, and his writing shows just
how different the participants were in terms of customs, appearance,
language, beliefs. When Romans developed the Roman Empire their system
promoted Roman nationalism. Everyone was encouraged to think of
themselves as Romans, wear togas, etc. Today we are used to this,
because all our nations are politically organized around large
scale nationalism. The largest European nation today is larger than the
largest natural tribe.
The notion that there could have been an empire in
Europe, or anywhere, before the Roman Empire, is ridiculous. When we
think of Indo-European cultures, whose language speaks of origins in
farming and herding, we have to think of hundreds of dialects. Without
large scale governments, it would be impossible for there to be one
language across central Europe. There was never a single large scale
Celtic nation. There as never a large scale Germanic nation. There was
never a large scale Slavic nation. The variation of languages and
cultures was as strong as Herodotus described in the tribes who came
together for the Persian war. Or imagine North America before
Europeans landed on its shores.
But why do scholars and pseudo-scholars imagine that
there existed a single Celtic Europe, a single Germanic Europe, or
single Slavic Europe before the Roman Empire? It is because larger
political units only developed since the Roman Empire, and copying of
the Roman heirarchical system.
In natural human organization, a tribe consisted of
a number of extended families associating with each other. Basically
the natural number of families is about 4-8. Each extended family
has a chief, and the grand chief of the entire tribe is formed from one
of them, and the family chiefs form a council to deal with tribal
When it gets larger, especially when the total
number of individuals exceeds about 60, men who challenge the chief can
break away and take a few families with them, and form another tribe.
The new tribe of course has to move far enough away so as not to remain
on the territory of the parent tribe. It is just like when a young
person leaves home - he or she wants to move far enough away to break
with their parent family.
But evironmental pressured may make it desirable
there is no breakaway, but the tribe tried to accomodate more families
and keep internal peace. This is achieved if the council of family
chiefs becomes more organized, and adds rules and punishments. When it
gets of substantial size, there is a king, and police to ensure this
oversize tribe holds together. Thus ancient kingdoms can become quite
large if well organized and regulated. But ultimately the "Kingdom" was
still a tribe.
BEFORE THE ROMAN EMPIRE: NO LARGE SCALE POLITICAL NATIONS
History shows that before and after the Roman
Empire, there were strong kingdoms with significant armies to keep the
ruled peoples in line, but these kindgoms could only extend their rule
as far as it took to send their army from the central palace location
to the most distant point the king claimed as his. How far is that?
A larger political unit could be obtained if several
kingdoms formed a confederation with a common purpose like defeating an
enemy. But confederations were usually short term.
The Roman Empire took another approach. It created a
multi-leveled government ruled from Rome. Armies were stationed all
over the map ready to head out to any location of unrest. It helped
that it sought to be democratic - that means it was not possible for
any one person to become a permanent ruler and command an army to keep
him in power. Indeed the natural government of humankind was
democratic. The chief of a tribe was chosen from among the chiefs/heads
of participating families. While there were traditions of certain
families inheriting the right to rule a tribe, it was just a default
suggestion, since families with traditions in leadership, would tend to
inherit the skills.
The Roman system, thus was able to create a very
large political unity by a heirachy of officials looking back to Rome,
along with military camps everywhere. In addition - and this is
important - Romans built long overland roads everywhere, so that an
army or officials could reach any location overland in a week or so.
Before the Roman Empire, roads were relatively local
and not very good. They were used only for regional marketing. A
cluster of settlements would establish a market town and cut roads by
which the settlements could get their produce to market. The condition
of the roads were only as good as the locals were willing to keep them
in shape. Romans created long roads on the large scale and
intentionally made them to last forever. Today sections of 2000 year
old Roman roads can still be found.
But before Roman roads created long distance
overland travel - assuming you had horses and chariots - the only
long distance highways were made of water, and travelled by boats.
Archeology in North America has determined that
North America had some long distance trade, originally oriented
north-south via the Mississippi. Apparently copper from north of Lake
Superior, for example, found its way to the Gulf of Mexico. This could
reflect what was found in Europe before the Bronze Age. Major long
rivers that linked distant locations were clearly used for carrying
wares long distances.
But long distance trade could only develop where
settled peoples developed an interest in places and goods further way
that what they knew in their local cluster of settlements. Today
there is world-wide shipping and there is very little left that we
would consider exotic - unless it is rocks from the moon. But earlier,
all local products would be ordinary and boring and we would be
fascinated by something new and different from far away.
But boats and rivers also had an intermediate role
as well. Even using a local river to go to a market located
strategically along a river, to which surrounding settlements could
bring wares to market without needing to deal with troublesome roads.
Thus the development of boats had a major impact to
all levels of trade everywhere there were waterways. Methods of
manufacturing with wicker or boards provided ideas for creating boats
sufficient for carring wares to market.
We can conclude that before the Roman Empire, there
were actually very few roads in general. Roads were trails created
naturally from being trampled.
TRADE SYSTEMS ORIGINALLY PARALLELED WATER SYSTEMS
The natural system of water drainage in Europe
became the heirarchy of shipping. Ancient peoples even understood it.
Tributaries of rivers sent waters down to points where several
tributaries met. Replace the word 'water' with 'goods' and it is easy
to see that different levels of market towns reflected the structure of
the water system. The dominant market would be the one at the mouth of
the river that also recieved ships via the sea.
The whole economic system based on using boats in
water systems to carry wares, was made possible by the adoption of
boats. Farming peoples could easily adopt boats for local travel, but
large scale trade tended to remain in the hands of the peoples who
originated the boat and the use of them in trade.Accordingly we should
discover in Roman era toponymy, that place name involved most in long
distance trade have descriptive names when interpreted with FInnic.
Between the major long distance routes and the local water routes to
local markets there were varying degrees of influence from the long
distance traders, according to the degree the participants needed to
master the large scale trade language.
Let us consider Gaul in Roman times
In his military campaigns to conquer Gaul, Julius Caesar saw three
distinct geographical areas with the same language, laws and
institutions - Aquitani, Belgae,
The actual division
into districts when Roman Gaul was formed, proved that these peoples were
defined by the the Garonne, Rhine, and Loire water basins. This
indicates that all peoples were using boats to travel up and down the
rivers in order to visit various local markets and the major
port-market at the mouth of the river.
Based on my theory that large scale traders
originated millenia previously and established a large scale Finnic
trade language, I studied place names around Roman Gaul and Britain, to
detect Finnic names - using the criteria that ancient peoples named
places by describing them (plus an added ending to signify it was a
name and not just a description - usually a genitive)
As much as I wanted to be able to translate with
Finnic (using Estonian) place names everywhere in Gaul, but in fact
most of the believable translations were at the trade routes by which
ancient traders crossed between the Mediterranean and Atlantic via to
rivers at the neck of the Iberian Peninsula - Ebro to the south of the
Pyrennes Mountains, and the Garonne to the north,
The most notable place name, still found on maps
today is the Spanish name for the Bay of Biscay - Mar Cantabrico. There
is also a mountain range Cordillera Cntbrica. Roman texts also identify
a tribe of that name south of the region of Bilbao or San Sebastian.
The word resonates with Estonian kandav riigi
'nations that carry, transport'. The Ebro flows towards the
Mediterranean from across the mountains Thus, there were people
with the role of carrying wares between the Atlantic and the upper
Ebro. The word "Ebro" itself combines two quite common word elements in
place names in western Europe - most noticable in Roman times - an ABA
which was the word used for a river that descended to the sea, and was
therefore a very long estuary, and the element RA (RO, RU, etc) which
was used often as a suffix meaning 'way, route' (In modern Estonian it
appears in rada, rata
'path, way' and is also at the origins of English road
.) It appears at the origins of the names of all major trade rivers - Rhine (Roman Rhennus
), Rhone (Roman Rhodanus
) and the -RA element occurred as a suffix in many river names - for examplem Loire was Roman Liger
, Oder was Otra
, the Danube was to Greeks Ister
, the Dneiper was Nistra
, the Volga according to Ptolemy was Rha
. All these names interpret well - for example LIgera resonates with Est liige ra(da)
'moving-way'. Later in history the element TURU was used to identify a
market, and it combined TU with the RA (RU, RO) and it meant literally
'bring-way' (the place to bring wares). At the same time,
the TU element (or TO, TE, TA, etc - in FInnish today tuo
, Estonian too
) was used to name rivers too. For example what Greeks knew as Istra
was also known by Romans Danubius
(read Est TOON 'of bringing' ABA 'estuary')
Near the mouth of the Ebro today, there is the
coastal port of Tarragona. Perhaps like Ebro, this is a word that has
resisted becoming distorted in the last couple millenia, since I can
see in it the Estonian turu-konna
'community of the market'
After a while the language of trade rivers becomes
clear. Some elements resonate with Basque. Basque may been the language
spoken by the Cantabrico
tribes, the tribes who were involved with the international trade.
To the north of the Pyrennes is
the Garonne. This river drains the other way. Thus a shipper could use
the Garonne when travelling with the flow from the Mediterranean to the
Atlantic an use the Ebro when going the other way. If one had a barge
and did not want to row against the flow. One would begin the journey
from Narbonne (I believe known as Narbo
Roman times) Narbo is the same word as today Narva in northeast
Estonia. It occurs in other locations like Narvik Norway. It exists in
many locations in ancient texts, and the stem is NER or NAR. It refers
to a location of a water route, in which the boat is forced through a
bottleneck, a narrows. It is origin of the English narrow
, and the name Norway
The latter comes from the narrow passage for travelling between the
North Sea and the Baltic. It originally applied to that area, but was
extended up the coast in the first millenium as the Danes conquered the
coasts that became Norway. (We note too that the district in northern
Spain where trade crossed from the Atlantic to the Ebro, is today
called Navarra.) Some may ask 'how do you know the word has Finnic
origin?' It is also used to name the kidney, by which fluid is
eliminated. (Estonian neer
The name of the Garonne River in Roman times was
something like Garumna. The GARU element appears frequently in
Ptolemy's Britain (Albion
) in early Roman times, and its context of use seems to resonate most with Estonian korja
meaning 'gather'. The English carry
probably is related. The river name probably originally meant '(river)
of the 'gathering land' or 'carrying land' implying that shippers
dropped their wares there in warehouses, to be transferred to
ships. An ocean-going ship of course did not travel through the
rivers. So unless a ship went to the Mediterranean via the Strait of
Gibraltar, the wares it carried were transferred between associated
shippers based on either side of the Iberian Peninsula. In any event
goods were funnelled from Narbo
to the Garonne, and travelled down the river to the mouth, where, according to Caesar the port town was called Burdigala
(or similar), today Bordeaux. The word Burdigala resonates with Estonian purde küla
meaning community built on piers. The mouth of major
rivers is always a swampy delta, so it is easy to imagine a port built
on piers located up the Garonne estuary as far as a ship could go
without going aground.
All the names easily translatable with Estonian into
meaningful descriptions are ones that can be easily associated with
major long distance trade. The descriptive words, furthermore, can be
found all over Europe!!
The names that change least are ones that are little
used and taken for granted. The neck of the Iberian Peninsula has a
mountain range called Pyrenes, which resonates with Estonian piirine
'of the nature of a boundary'
THE SETTLED FARMING PEOPLES TAKE OVER THE MAPS
It is easy to see how rapidly a farming-based
civilization can come to dominate a map with names, by simply looking
at a North American map and realize just how many settlements were
created only in several centuries.
In Europe too, farming was successful It allows
humans to survive on small plots of land, whereas aboriginals in the
wild had to procure food over large wilderness territories.
Farming was successful and farming settlements
multiplied. The new settlements will be named in the farming peoples'
language. It reminds me of how the North American map is filled with
towns and cities with original new names, but major geographical names
still have their original pre-colonization, Native names. (Like for
example "Mississippi" is Algonquian for 'river') Modern maps have so
much new naming that it is difficult to find surviving early names of
origins in the original boat peoples who established trade routes as
early as 5,000 years ago, and even names in Roman times had so much
development that in Roman times too, place and tribe names were
dominated by new names.
Celtic scholars will claim that these place names I
attribute to a large international trade language of Finnic origins,
are all Celtic. But that is like claiming all names in the modern North
American map are European. Scholarly opiniom lacks nuance.
I have given examples around the neck of the Iberian Peninsula,
but I could also continue and also look at other locations. Everywhere
there is evidence of an early large scale language. And the
languages of settled people adopted many of the commonly used words.
The word "Don" for trade rivers, is found from the Black Sea to Spain
to Britain. Why is this word so popular? Because it meant 'bring'
(probably developing the added meaning of 'carry'.
One finds the same words everywhere. Since this is a
subject that can take up a thousand pages, I will focus on the ancient
Greek world. The steady Baltic amber trade that began 5,000 years
ago, as findings of Baltic amber in Babylonian tombs, must have
left a strong mark on the ancient world. And that is the case.
The Development of Professional Trade
has found evidence dating back to the Stone Age, of goods originating
in a location appearing in another location far away. Humans are
natural towards sharing, and when two groups met, there is an
obligation to share what each has in excess. If the excess is in
natural resources, then they are happy to give away some of it. When
there is plenty there is low value. Elsewhere where people lack that
item, obtaining it has great value. Thus sharing excesses makes
everyone happy. If one group takes something from another that not in
excess, it manifests as robbery.
Originally, the groups met each other on
occasions of tribal gatherings. If the groups were strangers to each
other, there would be greater formality - is this item equal in value
to that which i given in exchange?
In between the bargaining strangers, steps in the businessman,
the merchant, the trader. But it was not a profession originally. It
became a profession when the merchant figured out how to take something
for himself - something from both parties for the effort.
Professional traders arose when
this merchant activity was combined with long distance transportation.
The professional trader obtained goods where they were in excess,
therefore cheap, and and carried it to another location where it was
rare and therefore valuable. For example, when some adventurers from
the Baltic went south wearing amulets made of Baltic amber, they
discovered people in the south who fascinated by the amber jewelery and
gave something in exchange that was valuable to them.
We know how in recent North America Natives were
happy to receive beads in exchange for furs. So we may think that the
merchants were crooks to take valuable furs in exchange for cheap
beads; but the realty was that the Natives did not attach such a high
value to furs as Europeans living in cities and the Natives found
European beads amazing. I would take them much effort to make such
In the Roman Age, and earlier, when the southeast
Baltic area was visited by Pytheas and Tacitus, they thought the
natives there for undervaluing amber so much they even burned it
sometimes for fuel, But the reality was only Pytheas and Tacitus
valued the amber, as a result of their experiences with it in the
Mediterranean market. Here in the north, it was something pretty that
washed up onto beaches after storms. Anyone could walk the beaches and
collect it. No payment needed for it.
But the reality was that the visitor from the
Mediterranean who came to purchase cheap amber, had already paid a
great deal in the transportation getting there.
The professional trader weighed the cost of
transporting an item a long distance against the difference between
cost at origin and revenue expected at the destination. Costs would be
kept down is the product had a high value compared to weight, and if
the shipping was as efficient as possible. In the beginning the people
who were able to make the journey for the lowest cost and highest
efficiency were those who used waterways and who had mastered,
now for millenia, a way of life moving through the natural wilderness
from one camping location to another, returning to the same place only
a year later. Such people could do the same thing, but carrying goods.
All that was necessary was that they maximized profit. If you had a
load of amber necklaces manufactured at the southeast Baltic, and made
a journey south up the Vistula, stopping and camping in four markets
along the way, you will not try to sell the amber necklace close to the
origins of the amber. You will hide the amber until reaching the
southern market where it is in greatest demand and fetch the greatest
payment, when weighed against the cost of the shipping. This is the
reason, it was in the interest for early traders to carry wares the
entire distance, and not sell it at the next market. If an item were
simply traded in the next marketplace, and it eventually reached the
south, its value would be consumed by a long chain of middlemen, each
adding cost, so that at the destination the net gain would be negative.
Therefore there was a strong incentive for the boat
peoples who embarked on professional trading, to deliberately set out
to go all the way to the final destination, even if it took many
months. Professional traders might imitate their traditional way of
life, moving through the settlement local markets a if traditional
campsites, spending a whole year before arriving back where they
started. It is possible that there were such trader, even travelling
entire families together. It is possible the peoples Greeks called
"Cimmeri", circumnavigated Europe, with the Volga on the east. It is
thought the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts, actually followed a
trade route that circumnavigated Europe.
It is surprising how even today archeologists do not
understand what drives trade. Archeologists have claimed the Baltic
amber that appeared in tombs of Babylon, arrived there by a chain of
hops from market to market. Others imagined that the the large amount
of amber that was found in the tombs of Mycenean kings came from a
large shipment presumably carried by their own people. But the
fact that today Polish archeologists were discovering remains of
amber-necklace crafting workships dating to that time (4000 years ago)
suggests that the Mycenean kings became aware of amber and its value by
already existing amber trade, in the Mediterranean before the Mycenean
Greeks arrived and began a campaign of replacing the original
"Pelasgic" trade language, with Greek.
In Finnic the stem myy
means 'sell'. Was Mycenea a trade center established by the "Pelasgi"
and was it originally called MYYGI(N) from genitive of MYYK 'the sale,
selling' hence '(city) of the selling'.
Not long ago, there was a media article about
archeologists having found that about the same time, or earlier, there
was copper mining in northern Wales that removed more copper from the
mine than could possibly be used locally. The idea was advanced that
the copper was being removed by boats. Where did the boats go? Were
they carried by ship all the way to the east Mediterranean? When
ocean-going ships had developed, ships that did not need to be portaged
or suit rivers, and which could be propelled by wind, it was possible
to load them with ore, and if the sailors did not have someplace else
they had to be, the ship could take months travelling the sea, with no
cost than to feed the sailors.
With sailing ships, distance ceased to be a
challenge. The large distance was easily covered by ships that sailed
night and day. It was possible, for example, for a ship sailing with
the wind, night and day to travel from Britain to the southeast Baltic
in ten days. Never mind, the challenges of carrying goods by rivers,
with portages, navigating marshes, stopping at markets, camping on
shores. Trade by sailing ship became the most efficient manner of
shipping, and it was not limited to light things of high value.
The British Isles became a major source of ores
needed in more developed Europe. Tin had to be added to copper to
produce the harder metal - bronze. Around 500 BC (2500 years ago, the
Greek historian Herodotus wrote that "amber and tin" come to Greece
'from the ends of the earth".
The whole story of how trade, industry and commerce developed Europe is essentially unknown.